You could say that it has been quite a season for the Duncan Demons baseball team. However, that might be an understatement.

The Demons have played in a playoff-like atmosphere for the better part of the season. You’d be hard pressed to find a tougher schedule on any slate in any class in the state.

Collecting 30 wins on the season against six losses is nothing to sneeze at either.

There are pitchers abound on the roster, the Demons are scoring runs at the rate of Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” and defense isn’t a problem either.

DHS is a solid team. They swept through the regional, won the SOI earlier in the year and finished as runner-up at the McAlester 5A Shootout.

Duncan has seen its fair share of quality teams.

However, the toughest part of the schedule now lies ahead. The Demons are in the season finale for the third straight year, and in none of the prior season has more been expected.

Two sophomores have solidified the lineup. Trent Wilkins avoided a sophomore slump, and Tyler King emerged from whispers to a loud roar, culminating in a 3-for-3 showing against Guthrie in the regional semifinals and a stellar pitching performance in the finals.

Seniors Sheylon Roberson and Kale Murphree have been solid throughout the season in the middle of the infield. Trevor Suffal emerged this season as a hitting and base-stealing threat. Senior outfielder Cory Lillard and junior third baseman Kyle Payne have had spurts where they have contributed to the offensive output, as well as playing solid defense.

Junior Vince Linke has been solid on the mound as well as at shortstop.

Senior Casey Halligan has played well at third alongside Payne.

The pitching staff of Murphree, Caleb Martin, Ryan Bailey, Dusty Spencer, Linke and King has held up well this season. Everybody from Lance Lewis to Austin Stanley to Colby Snider to Justin Holbein has played their part in the team’s success.

But, now, the toughest test awaits.

If everything plays out like it should, and all the top teams advance to the finale, this year’s state tournament will be a who’s who of Class 5A baseball.

There isn’t a weak team in the field at state, and anybody could walk out with the trophy on Saturday.

It’ll be tougher this season for Duncan than it was last year. In 2005, Duncan “snuck” into the season finale. This year they come with great big bulls-eye on their backs.

Tulsa Bishop Kelley is ranked first in the last coaches’ rankings released on April 16. However, Claremore has won state two of the last three seasons, with Bishop Kelley winning in 2004.

The Carl Albert Titans have downed the Demons twice this year, and are the top ranked team in Class 5A according to Coachesaid.com.

Then mix in the Demons, who have beaten Edmond Santa Fe, one of the best teams in Class 6A, and Shawnee, who has made the 5A state tourney seven years running, and you may have to look hard to find a better state tournament field.

Flip a coin and you might be better off than trying to sort through the numbers for a favorite.

The Demons can play with anyone, they’ve proven that time and time again this season. But so will have most of the teams in Tulsa.

Duncan’s team has been tested over the last three years. The seniors on this team have been tagged for years as the team that could win state. That’s a lot of pressure for a bunch of sophomores to bear. As juniors, they struggled through the regular season only to turn things around in the postseason.

No matter what happens in the coming week, the DHS baseball team has lived up to their billing and the lofty expectations placed on them and came out on top.



Ron Booth is the sports editor of The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 143, or via e-mail at ron.booth@duncanbanner.com.

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